Thoughts of Oakwell return inspire Howard

BRIAN HOWARD has issued a shock ‘come and get me’ plea to his former club Barnsley.

Former Tykes captain Howard quit Oakwell for Sheffield United three years ago but will line-up for today’s opponents Millwall if a proposed loan deal from Reading is agreed.

Out of contract this summer, Howard says he would love an opportunity to return to the club where he played, arguably, the best football of his career.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

“I already have offers from clubs for next season but I would definitely think about coming back if Barnsley were interested,” he said. “I have unfinished business at Barnsley and would love to come back.”

Howard, now 28, was one of the heroes of a Barnsley side that beat Liverpool and Chelsea before losing to Cardiff City at Wembley in the semi-final of the 2008 FA Cup.

His decision to join the Blades initially upset Tykes supporters but he still received a standing ovation on his return to Oakwell with Reading last season.

“That was one of the best moments of my career,” he said. “I left Barnsley for footballing reasons because I wanted to have a better chance of playing in the Premiership. But it was a very tough time – I got perceived as the ‘bad man’ and the ‘Judas’ but it wasn’t like that. I feel I’ve never really had the opportunity to say ‘thank you’ to the fans.”

Barnsley manager Keith Hill is currently on the look out for a new midfielder after losing both Danny Drinkwater and Jacob Butterfield and failing in a bid this week for Leyton Orient’s Stephen Dawson.

Drinkwater, who was on loan from Manchester United, has joined Leicester City while Butterfield has been ruled out for the rest of the season after snapping cruciate ligaments against Leeds United three weeks ago.

“We have nine days between the Millwall game and the Derby County game so we hope to do some business in that time,” said Hill, who ruled out a fresh move for Manchester City’s Israeli midfielder Gai Assulin.

Buoyed by victory at Leicester last weekend, the Tykes are currently six points adrift of the Championship play-off zone and 12 points clear of the relegation places.

“We are going to try and get into the play-offs,” said Hill. “The win at Leicester will give us ambitions to move up the table – but we have got to balance that with realism.”